Day 38-39: 12th-13th October
Our base for the last couple of days has been a quiet caravan park on the edge of the rural town of Mt. Barker. We’re midway between two places we visited on our journey west - Stirling Range National Park to the north and Albany to the south.
We had planned to make this a quick stopover en route to Fitzgerald River National Park, with just a brief visit to the nearby Porongurup National Park for some birding - on the advice of our guide book FAB.
Porongurup National Park
The best known feature of this park is its massive granite domes, which were shrouded in low cloud on the day of our visit.
The dominant vegetation type in the park is Karri forest. These are very tall trees!
The green bushes in the middle storey in this image are Karri Hazel (Trymalium odoratissimum).
The species name is very apt - the flowers have a strong, quite unpleasant odour.
The walking track in this image was an excellent site for bird watching. Several different species, including Tree Martins, White-breasted Robins and Rufous Treecreepers, repeatedly flew down to the path to pick up fragments of leaves or other nesting material.
The bushes flanking the path were alive with small birds. White-browed Scrubwrens and Inland Thornbills gleaned insects from the vegetation.
More open areas below the tall forest were also alive with birds, including Splendid and Red-winged Fairy-wrens and Scarlet Robins. The males steal the show, as is usual with birds.
So Porongurup NP certainly lived up to FAB’s recommendation. We sighted a total of 30 different species in just a few hours.
Mount Barker’s orchid hotspots
The rain closed in on Friday afternoon, driving us off the Porongurup mountain climb. Too cold, too slippery, and actually getting too late in the day.
And a look at the weather forecast caused us to rethink our plans for Saturday. Two more days of rain, here and at our next destination. Didn’t take us long to decide to wait out the wet in the relative comfort of the caravan park, rather than head off to the coastal wilds of Fitzgerald River.
So we planned a quiet ‘rest’ day for Saturday, catching up on computing and generally taking it easy. We haven’t actually had a day like that yet.
Saturday started out that way, but the lure of two nearby orchid sites drew us out again.
And it was definitely worth it!
The first site is a small bushland reserve, within the township of Mt Barker. At a glance, it may not look too special …yet, once again, we were soon blown away by the botanical diversity!
Butterfly Orchids!! We’d hoped to see these uncommon – and stunning - orchids. Yet another ‘first’ for us! So beautiful I can’t resist posting multiple photos.
Here are some of the other flowers on show, including more orchids … most of which we’d not seen anywhere before. It was an impressive display … and right in town!
People here are very proud of their orchids. It’s quite impressive to see groups of all ages out on a very grey and stormy Saturday morning, orchid spotting. Even the reserve itself is managed and protected by the local community.
The second site was less aesthetic … more of a roadside gravel pit, complete with broken glass and other debris. But absolutely full of large white spider orchids!
And more firsts for us … lots of Pink Enamel Orchids, and a small group of weird-looking Dragon Orchids. Plus a whole lot more.
And despite the weather, it is clear that Spring has truly arrived. A week ago we struggled to find an insect or spider. Now they are everywhere!
Oh, and I almost forgot. Dragonflies!
Tomorrow we will head off to Fitzgerald River, rain or shine.
28th-30th October: my final post, as we cross into the mid north of SA
A trip to Head of Bight, just in time to see several whales before they head south again for the Summer.
Our first stop in a natural place en route to WA presents us with two contrasting environments.